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Email Marketing Ethics: Keep These Things in Mind

Email Marketing Ethics: Keep These Things in Mind Email marketing is an effective communications tool to reach customers and keep them abreast of news regarding your affiliate marketing programs to spur sales. But overzealous online marketing can have the opposite effect if not properly implemented.

All of us have been the victims of email spam, and it’s an unpleasant experience. Let’s examine unsavory email practices and learn how to instead reach out to our customers with positive email marketing ethics.

In 2004, as part of the Controlling the Assault of Non-solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, the United States Congress passed into law principles to guide the ethical use of email for marketing purposes. Commonly referred to as CAN SPAM, here are some provisions of the law that you should keep in mind when developing affiliate marketing email campaigns.

Buying Email Lists

CAN SPAM specifically states that it is illegal to sell – and so, conversely, buy – email addresses. It is legal to “rent” a list, where the owner sends out an email on your behalf from their email address, but in this case you never see the list and it is a one-time transaction.

Buying email lists is fraught with issues. Opening and response rate is usually very low when a list has been sold multiple times to groups selling items unwanted by most of the population such as sex enhancement or health products. Quality of many sold lists is also low since they may not be derived from actual “opt-in leads,” but rather gotten via deceptive means.

False Header Information

When creating your email marketing campaign, be sure the header information including the originating domain name and email address are accurate. This is required by the CAN SPAM law, so it makes sense to double-check that data is correct.

Deceptive Subject Lines

While “Happy Holidays” is a nice sentiment in a subject line, "Holiday Discounts for Special Email Customers" is more accurate. CAN SPAM specifically states that the subject must not be misleading in any way. Disappointing potential customers who expected something free or pleasant is a sure way to lose their business.

Include Sender’s Postal Address

You must also design into your email the actual mailing address of your company. Usually this goes at the bottom, but no matter where you place it, CAN SPAM requires the physical address be posted.

Opt-out Option

A major requirement of the United States marketing law is that recipients are given a way to elect to terminate any future emails from you. Furthermore, you are required by law to honor all such requests. Simple code can be inserted into the email to bring up an opt-out request that is automatically sent to your list manager.

Keeping your list current and clean is, of course, a benefit in your marketing efforts. The highest returns on marketing campaigns are those that go to potential customers who actually have interest in our products or services.

Strictly following these simple CAN SPAM guidelines mean that you will have substantial success in your email marketing campaigns. Plus you’ll stay on the right side of United States law, avoiding fines and legal expenses.

Sarah Boisvert writes on business, financial, marketing, and sales topics, covering business leaders such as Bill Gates, Gary Crittenden, and Tim Cook. She also covers technology such as 3D printing and digital fabrication.

Photo Caption: No one likes to be attacked by SPAM!
Credit: Vince_Lamb via Flickr
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